Who is she [that] looketh forth as the morning?
These words may be connected with the preceding, by a supplement of the word “saying”; and so may express what the daughters said, when they blessed and praised the church, wondering at her beauty, it being like the rising morning; And as these words describe the progressive gradations of light, so they may set forth the state and condition of the church in the several ages of the world; its first state in this clause, which may reach from the first dawn of light to Adam, ( Genesis 3:15 ) ; increasing in the times of the patriarchs, Noah, Abraham, and Jacob, and in which and to whom were various displays of Gospel light and grace; to the time of the giving of the law by Moses, when the church might be said to be
fair as the moon;
which, though it receives its light from the sun, yet splendour and brightness are ascribed to it, ( Job 31:26 ) ; and, by other writers, is represented as fair and beautiful; and the beautiful form of persons is expressed by it1: and very fitly is the state of the church signified by the moon because all her glory is reflected and she/the believer wax and wane in reflected brightness of holiness (Anon), the moon’s brightness varying in relation to its orbit, like the believer and his relation to Christ. So let us remember that it is only when our eyes are toward the Lord, and our face kept steadfast toward his countenance, that we can catch his rays, reflect his glory, and walk in his brightness ‘fair as the moon.’ (Moody Stuart). The darkness in which the moon shines may be the dark world of sin or gloomy affliction (MS). Gill likewise ascribes this figure to the church under the ceremonial law ( Revelation 12:1 ) ; that lying much in the observation of new moons, by the which the several festivals under the law were regulated; and which law gave light in the night of Jewish darkness, into the person, offices, and grace of Christ; and though it was imperfect, variable, waxed old, and at length vanished away, yet the church under it was “fair”; there being a beauty and amiableness in the worship of that dispensation, ( Psalms 27:4, 84:1 ). Moody Stuart also variously interprets this moon under the feet pertaining to a past dispensation, clothed with the sun, the present state, and with stars above her head, her future, final everlasting state (being with and like the angelic host) yet simultaneously she is all three and Christ holds the stars (ministers) in his hand.
clear as the sun,
The next clause, “clear as the sun”, may describe the church under the Gospel dispensation; when the “sun of righteousness” arose, and made the famous Gospel day; when the shadows of the old law fled away, Christ, the substance, being come; when there were more light and knowledge, and a clear discerning of spiritual and evangelic things: and, in all those periods, the church was “terrible as [an army] with banners”; to her enemies, being in a militant state; (See Gill on Song of Solomon 6:4). The whole of this may be applied to particular believers; who, at first conversion, “look forth as the morning”, their light being small, but increasing; and, as to their sanctification, are “fair as the moon”, having their spots and imperfections, and deriving all their light, grace, and holiness, from Christ; and, as to their justification, being clothed with Christ, the sun of righteousness, ( Revelation 12:1 ) ; and so all fair and without spot; also note Proverbs 4:18, “But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.”–JK, Matt.13:43 concerning the eternal state, “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear ” and Daniel 12:3, “And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.”
[and] terrible as [an army] with banners,
fighting the good fight of faith, under the banners of Christ, against all spiritual enemies (namely world under Satan, flesh and devil-JK).